Behind the Breed: The Siberian Husky

May 17, 2010

Behind the Breed: Siberian Husky

By Michele Forto

Behind the breed is an ongoing series to assist in you choosing the right breed for yourself and family.

The Siberian Husky – Is a strong medium-sized dog that loves to work and is loyal to his family. According to the American Kennel Club; The Siberian Husky was originated by the Chukchi people of northeastern Asia as an endurance sled dog.  The Siberian Husky took notice by Americans in Alaska right around 1900.  The first team of Siberian Huskies made its appearance in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes Race of 1909.  The All-Alaska Sweepstakes Race was a grueling 400-mile race.  Charles Fox Maule Ramsey imported the Siberian Husky into Alaska and John “Iron Man” Johnson won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes Race of 1910 with this stout hearty nordic breed.  In the following decade Siberian Huskies were bred and raced by Leonhard Seppala, who captured most of the racing titles in Alaska.

In 1925, the city of Nome was stricken with diphtheria, sled dog drivers in Alaska including Seppala, were called upon to deliver the antitoxin to Nome. This brought a lot of attention to Seppala and his little huskies.  Seppala was invited to tour and compete in sled dog races in New England and was able to showcase the superior racing ability of his Siberian Huskies.  In 1930, the American Kennel Club recognized the Siberian Husky.

Siberian Huskies have played many roles in the history of expeditions for the United States.  They were on several Byrd Antarctic Expeditions as well as the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit during World War II.

The Siberian Husky is naturally friendly and gentle in temperament. He possess at times an independent nature, and although very alert, in many cases lacks the aggressive or protective tendencies of a watchdog. He is by nature fastidiously clean and free from the body odors that many dense coated breeds have.  Although remarkable for his adaptability to all kinds of living conditions, his natural desire to roam makes a measure of control necessary at all times.  The understanding owner will find the Siberian Husky an enjoyable companion in country or city.  He has endeared himself to dog fanciers everywhere by his versatility, striking beauty, and amiable disposition.

As an owner, breeder, and musher of Siberian Huskies I have found them to be independent in their trainability but always by my side.  Siberian Huskies make great companions to people who lead active lifestyles and like doing things with their pets.  Huskies love to work and will pull just about anything for you. They are wonderful around children.  I recommend this breed to people who are active but I also recommend this breed to people who aren’t as active.  A Siberian Husky will be the best friend you ever had as long as you remember to guide him and train him well.

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Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

Behind the Breed: The German Shepherd

May 17, 2010

Behind the Breed: German Shepherd

By Michele Forto

Behind the breed is an ongoing series to assist in you choosing the right breed for yourself and family.

The German Shepherd – Founded by Captain Max von Stephanitz in 1899, and molded by the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) is recognized as the breed’s original parent club. From about 1914, the popularity of the German Shepherd Dog spread rapidly throughout the world.  Interest in the breed has been fostered worldwide by specialty clubs in many countries, just as it has in the United States by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

The most important attribute of the breed is its character. German Shepherd Dogs are distinguished by the loyalty, courage, and ability to assimilate and retain training for an amazing number of specialized services. They should be of even disposition, poised, and unexcitable, with restrained and composed confidence.  For typical work as a herding sheepdog, they must not be gun-shy and must have the courage to protect the flock from attacks by other animals or humans. For police work, narcotics detection, or search and rescue, they must have courage and stability coupled with excellent scenting capabilities. As a guide dog for the blind, German Shepherd Dogs must and do exhibit a high order of intelligence and discrimination, as this work requires observation, patience, faithfulness, watchfulness, and good judgment. All this is possible because of the German Shepherd Dog’s natural aptitude for training.

These qualities have endeared German Shepherd Dogs to a wide public in practically every country in the world.  They serve as assistants for the disabled, therapy dogs for the infirm, home guardians, and companions and friends to children and families.  They are protectors of livestock and partners to police officers and soldiers.  German Shepherd Dogs are not pugnacious brawlers but bold and punishing fighters, if the need arises.  With humans, they do not give affection lightly.  They are dignified and may be indifferent to strangers, but friendship, once given, is for life. (The Complete Dog Book 20th Ed. AKC)

As an owner, breeder, and trainer of this distinguished breed I am honored to have placed some of my best in service work for the disabled.  I find the German Shepherd Dog to be highly trainable and loyal to his handler/owner.  I recommend this breed to individuals, families, children, and elderly.  Not to be misunderstood, the German Shepherd Dog is a breed that must be respected and who demands respect.  Training a German Shepherd Dog is very rewarding and can be multifaceted.

A German Shepherd Dog is not content in just lying around the house when they are young and vibrant, therefore, I recommend getting your pup into training immediately.  Speak with your trainer and veterinarian about different jobs your German Shepherd Dog can do.  German Shepherd Dogs are great at conformation, obedience, rally, agility, herding, tracking, bikejoring, bladejoring, search and rescue, Schutzhund, therapy, and assistance for the disabled in various disciplines just to name a few of the most popular.  German Shepherd Dogs are wonderful companions who with steadfast accuracy will protect you and their home making them great guardians, hence their use in police work.

A few things to note regarding the German Shepherd Dog; they are high energy and need a job.  I have recommended and placed German Shepherd Dog’s in homes of all types of lifestyles and capabilities.  With the assistance of a good trainer who understands this breed and their ability you will have one of the best dogs of your lifetime.

The German Shepherd Dog can be aloof, loyal, excitable, and face several health issues.  Please research your breeder and choose carefully.  Getting the advice of your veterinarian and the assistance of a trainer who handles the breed or who performs breed referrals is of utmost importance.  The perseverance and quality of the breed standard should be the breeders ultimate goal.

What are your thoughts on the German Shepherd Dog? Send your comments to

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Michele Forto the Denver Dog Training Examiner and is a certified canine trainer and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

Beezer and Boomer

May 17, 2010

Beezer and Boomer

By Michele Forto

Today we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing local, Denver, author Doug Koktavy about his new book: The Legacy of Beezeand Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Friends (2010 B Brothers Press).

You can listen to the show here:

We will include a few questions from the interview:

Q. Who are Beezer and Boomer?

A. My black Labrador Retriever, Siblings, the “B” Brothers were born March 26, 1996.

Beezer passed May 1, 2005 at age 9

Boomer passed April 23, 2007 at age 11

Q. Why do we need another pet book? Haven’t they all been done? How is this one different?

A.Many Fun with Fido books exist. A few deal with grieving the death of a pet. My book fills the void between a tough diagnosis at the vet’s office and that hardest goodbye. No other book deals with this difficult emotional period in a pet owner’s life when he questions what he should have done differently–or wonders how he will ever find a happy life without his pet.

Q. What is the book about?

A. The book is about how I dealt with the fear and guilt during my dogs’ illnesses. Beezer was diagnosed with kidney disease, which initially threw me for a loop when I couldn’t control it or change the outcome. But over the moths as Beezer was dying, I was slowly learning how to cope. After Boomer was diagnosed with bone cancer, I found I could apply Beezer’s lessons on dealing with this grief and at the end find peace. It’s a sad topic but not a sad book. It is actually very uplifting.

Q. What made you decide to write the book?

A. I went looking for help when my dog, my best friend, was diagnosed with a terminal disease. The help was not for my dog, it was for me. I was angry, frustrated, fearful, unable to cope with my emotions as Beezer got sicker. It was startling for someone who prided himself on control and problem solving. Since then I have learned that many people feel this way.

In the interview we continued to talk to Doug about his inspiration to not only write the book but also to teach others how to deal with this most difficult time in a pet owner’s life. We spoke about what he calls the 3 P’s: Permission, Purpose, and Power.

We also talked about a way that we should all look at life, in that: (1). Fear lives in the future, (2). Guilt lives in the past, (3). My safety zone is today, and (4). Nothing bad ever happens in the moment.

It was great stuff. We have interviewed a lot of authors on the Dog Doctor Radio Show and I can personally say that this one touched my heart. As many of you know, we have a 12 year old Siberian Husky, named, Ineka. We recently found out that he has canine dementia and he is coming close to the Rainbow Bridge. This book allows you to find your own personal strengths and to learn how to face your fears.

Doug said it best in a quote that I will remember for the rest of my life: “pets lead such short lives for a specific reason. It’s to teach us to love unconditionally and let go.”

I encourage all of you to listen to the show and if you get a chance to buy the book as well. You can purchase it right from the show page. This book will change your life.

We welcome your comments, and/or if you have a question for the author please post them and we will forward them to him. Contact us at

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Michele Forto the Denver Dog Training Examiner and is a certified canine trainer and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at